OAKLAND -- It's impossible to sit through a game at Oakland Coliseum without being inundated by reminders that the movie "Moneyball" opens next Friday in theaters. The A's, in fact, will be giving away "Moneyball" T-shirts to celebrate on Sunday. It does not sound like many Tigers plan on checking it out.
Manager Jim Leyland said his wife might go, but it won't be with him.
Leyland did not read the book, though his wife did. He has heard plenty about the philosophies behind it. He was asked about the topic Saturday morning, and while he has a well-earned image as an old-school manager, he has a use for specialized statistics.
The difference, he said, is that he emphasizes different stats than those who follow the Moneyball philosophy.
"I respect baseball people, and I respect [A's general manager] Billy Beane, but I'm not a big on-base percentage guy," he said. "I just happen to be a slugging-percentage guy. If you look at my team right now, who makes our money? [Miguel] Cabrera, [Victor] Martinez, they make a lot.
"I don't want to sound disrespectful, because I am [respectful]. I think it's a nice concept, and I'm sure there's very intelligent stuff. But, like I said, I'm a slugging-percentage guy."
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said he has read the book, and understands the strong opinions it created on both sides.
Tigers ready to go day after celebration
OAKLAND -- The Tigers hadn't even clinched the American League Central yet Friday night when Miguel Cabrera made his intentions clear about playing Saturday afternoon.
"He's on a mission," manager Jim Leyland said. "He told [coach] Gene Lamont at third base last night, 'Hey, tell skip I want to play tomorrow.'
Others waited until after the game, amidst the celebration.
"Victor Martinez whispered in my ear, 'I want to play tomorrow.' I'm saying, 'Doesn't the manager decide who's going to play?'"
He does, but he also doesn't think twice when his two best hitters are asking to play in the day game after the division-clinching night game.
The Tigers wrapped up their first division title since 1987, but they still have a race going for a first or second seed in the AL playoffs and home-field advantage for the Division Series and potentially beyond. They entered Saturday with a two-game lead on the Rangers for the two seed, and crept within three games of the Yankees for home field throughout the AL playoffs.
It did not take the Tigers long to shift their attention. Even with the memories of the division celebration fresh in their minds -- well, most of them -- players, coaching staff and front-office members already were looking beyond.
For veterans such as Brad Penny who won it all with the 2003 Marlins, it wasn't hard.
"That's not the real fun," Penny said of Friday's celebration. "The real fun is in the end. They always say you want to smoke four cigars and drink champagne four times."
Early clinch brings some relief to Dombrowski
OAKLAND -- Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski was talking with reporters Saturday morning in the visiting dugout at Oakland Coliseum when somebody pointed out the Indians-Twins score on the out-of-town scoreboard. For the first time since maybe April, Dombrowski didn't have to give a second thought about it.
For Dombrowski, whose tradition of reading the box scores every morning is well known, it was a good feeling.
"It's like, right now, we don't have to worry about our division anymore," Dombrowski said. "Now we can try to finish with the best record over Texas or even the Yankees. But it's a situation where, yes, it is a good feeling to say, 'So what?' It is really good. I wish them both well."
Among the multitudes of text messages and emails he received when the Tigers clinched was an email of congratulations and best wishes in the playoffs from Twins general manager Bill Smith. Given their longtime friendship, plus the memorable Twins-Tigers races over the last six years, it meant a lot to him.
He took a little extra satisfaction that many didn't expect his team to end up here.
"We're 13 1/2 games in first, and I don't think many people picked us to win the division," Dombrowski said. "There might have been a couple. I remember sitting there at the All-Star break, we were watching [the All-Star Game] with my family and two kids and my wife. We're watching all the shows, and nobody picked the Tigers to win. Most people picked the White Sox or the Indians.
"'Well, that's good,' my wife said. 'Everybody's looking past us, and that's probably better.' But that shows you, the guys have really done a tremendous job."
When asked about the 12-game winning streak that propelled them out of reach, Dombrowski said, "You sometimes shake your head in amazement when they go on a roll like that. It's hard to believe it now."
As much as the messages from around the industry meant, the congratulations from the team were more special for him. He was in the clubhouse during the postgame celebration Friday and was hugging his ace, Justin Verlander, when fellow starter Max Scherzer poured champagne over his boss' head.
Dombrowski laughed and hugged Scherzer.
"I think he started it," Dombrowski said. "There were others. You'll take that. You'll take that burning in your eyes and the dousing of champagne. I hope we do it a few more times this year."
Fister back to work early day after Tigers clinch
OAKLAND -- Tigers pitcher Doug Fister normally runs a few miles just about every day as part of his training routine, which usually makes him one of the early arrivals at the ballpark, home and road. He was among the first in the clubhouse Saturday, hours after he and others inundated it with champagne and cigar smoke into the early hours of Saturday morning.
"It doesn't smell that bad in here [now]," he said.
More important than the scent of the clubhouse after that celebration, though, was the feel of it for him. Though Fister wasn't a part of this team at the start of its run toward the American League Central title, he was at the heart of the celebration after he hurled eight strong innings to get the win in the clincher. Nearly everyone, he said, poured champagne on the 6-foot-8 right-hander, including 5-foot-9 Will Rhymes.
It was the latest example of the welcome that has allowed him to settle in and become a key cog on this team. Fister was acquired at the Trade Deadline in a deal with the Mariners.
"We have a camaraderie in this clubhouse that's unbelievable," Fister said. "It's unlike any other clubhouse. When you talk about feeling so welcome so quickly, these guys opened up your arms, opened up their home for us to come in and be a part of it real quick.
"We were all close, but last night, those kind of experiences bring a group so tight and so together that there's not much that takes us apart right now."
Leyland still mum on roster for postseason
OAKLAND -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn't want to discuss the decisions looming for making out the postseason roster until Detroit actually earned a spot in the postseason. Now that they're in, he'll discuss them to a point.
"I think guys can figure out the bulk of it," Leyland said. "I think there's only going to be a couple issues."
For the sake of suspense for advance scouts, the Tigers aren't likely to reveal their final decisions until the last few days, including a postseason rotation. He admittedly plans on slotting Justin Verlander at the top, but that's about all he would give.
Doug Fister and Max Scherzer will surely be in the rotation, but the order isn't quite certain. After that, the Tigers have to decide on a fourth starter, which isn't yet clear.
Rick Porcello started on Saturday. Brad Penny had an unselfish outlook on the question when asked Saturday morning.
"I want to win," Penny said. "So [it's about] whatever I can do to help the team win.
Magglio Ordonez's three-hit game Saturday extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active streak in the Majors. He's batting .400 (20-for-50) over that stretch.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he's considering giving a day off to Austin Jackson, whose 0-for-4 game Saturday extended his hitless streak to 17 at-bats. He's 4-for-46 (.087) with 21 strikeouts over his last 12 games.
Miguel Cabrera said he had three hard-hit balls Saturday, but ended up going 0-for-3 to drop his batting average to .333. He's four points behind Boston's Adrian Gonzalez for the American League lead.
Leyland said he stayed inside his office for most of the clinching celebration Friday night. When told a few players were sliding on the plastic covering laid on the clubhouse floor to keep the champagne out of the carpet, Leyland said he knew and he "wasn't too happy" about that. "I didn't go out there too much," he said, "because I didn't want to know what was going on."